Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is preparing to increase the numbers of wolf and coyotes hunted in Ontario. The proposed changes will allow unlimited hunting of coyotes in northern Ontario, remove the game seal requirement for wolves and coyotes in northern Ontario, and relax harvest reporting requirements throughout all parts of northern and central Ontario. Animal Justice submitted a formal comment to the Ministry criticizing this proposal as being unjustifiably cruel to animals, unscientific, and running contrary to Ontario’s conservation goals.
The government claims killing more wolves will lead to a rebound in moose populations in northern Ontario. However, the province’s own research suggests that the government-sanctioned moose hunt is a significant factor in declines; shockingly, Ontario still allows the hunting of moose calves. Moose populations in southern Ontario–where the hunt is more limited–have fared much better. The moose population has also been harmed by climate change and habitat destruction. Ontario must address human-caused moose population declines instead of using wolves and coyotes as scapegoats.
Similarly, the government claims killing wolves and coyotes will somehow work to ensure the sustainability of wolf and coyote populations in northern Ontario, while protecting Eastern wolves, which are an at risk species. However, increased hunting has proven an ineffective means of managing wolf and coyote populations. Studies have shown that increased hunting may actually cause wolf and coyote populations to increase by destabilizing pack structure. The proposal also directly endangers Eastern wolves as Eastern wolves are frequently mistaken for coyotes. Unlimited coyote hunting will thus inevitably result in the deaths of Eastern coyotes.
Unsurprisingly, Ontario cites hunter support of these changes, but Animal Justice believes the interests of the hunting lobby should never trump those of the animals and the environment. Ontario has a responsibility to protect wolves and coyotes; not the hunting lobby.
Animal Justice’s submission, including full citations, is available here.